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    Phone Apps

    All modern smart phones have location tracking capabilities, and all of the platforms have apps that allow you to accurately locates the phones. To use a tracking app all you need to do is download the app from the app store, register it with your tracking provider and you are up and running.


    Tracking apps sit in the background and send their locations back to the tracking platform at set intervals. The apps will let you check in, activate alerts, show you the location of the phone and configure app settings, but their main function is to provide location information without user interaction.


    Historically tracking apps have caused a significant drain on your batteries. With improvements in operating systems, hardware and tracking applications this is less of an issue today. Even with these improvements smart phones still only last from 1 to 2 days, which is significantly less than the 7 to 10 days tracking devices will give you.


    Your mobile phone is now an essential part of your daily life, and something you will carry with you and keep charged at all times. With a tracking app on your phone you no longer need to carry an additional tracking device.


    When travelling abroad you may have to pay data roaming charges for using your phone. In certain countries these charges can be very steep, with a single megabyte of data costing several dollars. Enabling data roaming can therefore easily cost you hundreds of dollars within just a few days. As track apps rely on mobile data to communicate with the tracking service, the cost of using the tracking service can be substantial.


    Pros
    Single deviceThere is no need to carry additional tracking devices
    AccuracyTracking apps can use GPS, cell tower and wifi data to provide location information
    User InterfaceUsers can use the app to determine where they are, with coordinates and maps.
    Cons
    Roaming CostsData roaming costs can be very high for certain countries
    BatteryPhone batteries only last between 1 to 2 days
    PrivacyUsers may not want to have their phones tracked
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    Tracking Devices

    Tracking devices are small portable devices that send their location back to a tracking server at set intervals. The most common devices get their locations using GPS and communicate the data to the tracking server using GSM/GPRS.


    Due to their small size tracking devices are easy to carry and easy to conceal. They have no user interface so once a device is switched on there is no need access the device until the battery needs recharging. Whereas a smartphone is a desirable target for criminals, tracking devices have little resell value, are difficult to steal and criminals are unlikely to know what to do with them.


    A tracking device's battery can last up to 10 days on a single charge, and when the battery runs low the device can remind you to recharge it. With the long battery life it is possible to complete a whole trip on a single charge.


    Tracking devices transmit and receive very little data, making their running cost low regardless of which countries thare are used in. A tracking device like the ones shown above use about 1MB of data per month with data fixes at 15 minute intervals.


    Tracking devices can easily be assigned to an person on a permanent or trip/time period basis. If most of your employees are working out of a single office you may choose a have a small collection of devices and hand them out on a need basis.


    Pros
    Roaming CostsData roaming costs are low as the devices do not receive or transmit much data
    BatteryPhone batteries last between 7 and 10 days
    PrivacyPeople may not want to have their phones track. Tracking devices are less personal and will cause less concern
    SizeTracking devices are very small and can easily be carried and concealed
    Cons
    Additional DeviceThe tracking device is an additional device the user must have with them.
    AccuracyTracking devices use GPS and sometimes cell tower information to determine location. Indoor tracking is less accurate.
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    Satellite

    Satellite devices give you global tracking coverage, from pole to pole, across oceans and deserts.


    If you are looking for a tracking solution that works anywhere, even in the remotest corners of the world, satellite tracking devices are the only option. Although there are several satellite networks, only Iridium will give you completely global coverage. Inmarsat has good coverage does not provide complete coverage.


    Satellite devices are significantly larger and heavier than mobile based tracking devices and smart phones. These devices need to communicate with satellites rather than ground based mobile towers. At the same time satellite devices are general more rugged than their counterparts, making them more suitable for harsher conditions.


    The cost of purchasing satellite tracking devices and satellite phones is significantly higher than mobiled devices. On the other hand the cost of using them is the same regardless of where in the world they are being used.


    Pros
    Remote AreasSatellite devices work anywhere in the world
    PricePrices are fixed regardless of location
    RuggedSatellite devices are more rugged than other devices
    Cons
    CostSatellite devices are more expensive than mobile network based devices
    Outdoors OnlySatellite devices will only work outdoors.
    SizeSatellite tracking devices and phones are larger and heavier than their mobile network counterparts
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    What to go for

    If you want to track an person within your own country or countries where data roaming fees are low we would recommend using a phone app. No additional devices are required and getting up and running is very quick. If you have a choice of mobile platforms we would recommend Android over Blackberry, Apple and Windows due to the flexibility the Android platform provides.


    If you are tracking a person in a country where data roaming costs are high, or if the travellers don't want to have tracking apps on their phones we would recommend tracking devices. They give more controlled costs and more privacy for the person.


    For tracking in remote locations the only option is satellite tracking. For just tracking the DeLorme Inreach is an ideal solution. If you want phone capabilities as well then the ideal option is the Iridium Extreme, which functions as a phone as well as a tracking device.